Kristoff Wins Stage 12 of Tour de France
Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) has won Stage 12 of the Tour de France. The Norwegian burst into the lead with 150 m remaining to take the hilly, 185.5-km ride from Bourg-en-Bresse to Saint-Etienne in 4:32:11. Peter Sagan (Cannondale) finished second, and Arnaud Demare (FDJ.fr) finished third. Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) remains the maillot jaune.
Sebastian Langeveld (Garmin-Sharp) escaped at seven km, and Gregory Rast (Trek), Florian Vachon (Bretagne-Seche Environnement), Simon Clarke (Orica-Greenedge), and David de la Cruz (Netapp-Endura) joined him. The fugitives’ lead maxed out at five minutes before Giant-Shimano started chasing. With 70 km remaining, Europcar took over from the Dutch squad.
With 94 km to go, de la Cruz overcooked a right turn and took out Langeveld. The Dutch road champion remounted, but de la Cruz did not. He abandoned with a broken collarbone.
On the Category 3 Col des Brosses, Langeveld and Clarke dropped Rast and Vachon. With 26 km left, on the Category 4 Col de Grammond, Clarke dropped his former Orica-GreenEdge teammate. Behind, Pierrig Quemeneur and Cyril Gauthier (both from Europcar) attacked from the peloton. They overtook the Australian with 20 km left, at which point the trio led the bunch by 0:30.
Behind, Giant-Shimano chased on behalf of John Degenkolb. Cannondale and Katusha joined the pursuit on behalf of Sagan and Kristoff, respectively. With 10 km to go, the break led the bunch by 0:20. Quemeneur dropped off of the pace. Five km later, the peloton, led by Lotto-Belisol and Giant-Shimano, reeled in Clarke and Gauthier.
The bunch powered to the finish line. With three km left, Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol), Sylvain Chavanel (IAM Cycling), and Sep Vanmarcke (Belkin) crashed. With a km left, Kristoff’s teammate Luca Paolini led out the sprint. The Italian pulled off with a few hundred m left. Kristoff had Matteo Trentin’s (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) wheel. With 150 m left, the Olympic bronze medalist charged into the lead and held off Sagan by half a bike length.
Kristoff had to improvise his sprint when his sprint train became somewhat unglued. “My teammate Luca did a great job keeping me in the front,” he said, “and then at the end I also had [Aleksandr] Porsev but we lost each other in the last corners so I was sitting on [Matteo] Trentin for the last 500 meters. I was waiting and waiting but then I saw Degenkolb go and knew I had to go also. I was so happy when I saw no one could pass me. We will have some champagne tonight but tomorrow is a hard stage so we won’t have too much of a party.”
In the overall, Nibali leads Richie Porte (Sky) by 2:23 and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) by 2:47. Stage 13 will be a standing shaker. The 197.5-km ride from Saint-Etienne to Chamrousse will take the riders over the Category 1 Col de Palaquit before they tackle the hors categorie ascent to the finish. Will Nibali fend off the charge of the other contenders? Will Porte or Valverde narrow the gap between them and the maillot jaune? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!